WILLIAM Dunlop is counting down the days until he can finally put his R1 Yamaha Superbike through its paces on the north coast.
The Ballymoney man, who joined up with Shaun Muir’s Milwaukee Yamaha team, will finally get to race the machine this week and it’s fair to say he’s looking forward to it.
“I can’t wait to be barrelling down into Magherabouy on the R1 Yamaha superbike,” said Dunlop.
“I have been watching the mechanics build the superbike on Facebook all winter. As they assemble it the Milwaukee boys post up pictures and now that it’s built I can’t wait to get on it.
“The R1 will have a load of electronic gadgets on board that I have never used on the roads before. There is traction control, launch control and the facility to alter the engine braking characteristics for instance. All of that will require some fine tuning before we start to race.”
William will also have the new superfast German-built R6 Yamaha available to him at the Vauxhall North West. The bike is being supplied in a joint deal between Milwaukee and local sponsor CD Racing and William is certain that it will be every bit as competitive as his Superbike machine.
Much of the talk building up to the Supersport races centred on the rivalry between current British Supersport Championship hotshots Alastair Seeley and Stuart Easton.
But there exists a potentially more fiery conflict, with Dunlop preparing himself for Thursday evening’s opening Supersport 600 encounter, with the manner of his last-lap defeat at the hands of Seeley in 2012 still fresh in his mind.
Dunlop won the first Supersport race last year and was leading the second when he was overtaken by Seeley at Church Corner, who went on to take the silverware.
The 27-year-old indicated his disapproval of the move in front of the television cameras afterwards, refusing to shake Seeley’s hand and claiming he had been the victim of a risky pass.
Dunlop expects to be right in the frame for victory again on the trick Milwaukee/CD Racing Yamaha R6, but isn’t anticipating a two-horse race.
To add more fuel to the fire, Michael Dunlop could join the party on his World Superpsort-specification Honda CBR600RR and riders of the ilk of Bruce Anstey (Padgetts Honda) and Aussie Cameron Donald on Wilson Craig’s ultra-quick Honda can never be discounted, with Gary Johnson a fascinating prospect on Jack Valentine’s ValMoto MV Agusta 675.
“The 600cc race will be my top priority for 2013,” said William. “Although it is not out of the question that I can win on the big bike I really want to win both the 600cc races this year. I got one of them last year and I want to go one better in 2013.”
“I’m on a bike that’s probably better than the one I had last year, but then again Seeley is on a better bike and Easton has a strong bike as well.
“Michael could be a dark horse as well on his Honda so there’s a few riders involved – it won’t be a two-horse race.
“The 600 Yamaha is a good bike but it’s a tough class. It’s so hard to make a break because the bikes are pretty evenly matched.
“You could end up being sixth because it’s so competitive,” he added.
“You can’t really aim towards one person and you never know at the North West – it can come down to whoever’s bike is the best on the day and you need a bit of luck as well.”